Return to Transcripts main page

CNN This Morning

Trump's Weekend Remarks Promise 'Bloodbath' if Not Elected; Trump Decision on Abortion Coming 'Pretty Soon'; Cherry Blossoms Reach 'Peak Bloom' Early in D.C. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired March 18, 2024 - 06:00   ET


KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: It's Monday, March 18, right now on CNN THIS MORNING.



DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT, 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now, if I don't get elected, it's going to be a bloodbath.


HUNT: That's Donald Trump, warning the nation about what will happen if he loses another election.

Plus --




HUNT: Israel's prime minister fighting back against calls from the United States for new elections.

And America's top diplomat visiting the Korean Peninsula at the same time Kim Jong-un launches a new round of ballistic missiles.

All right. It's 6 a.m. here in Washington. Here's a live look at Miami, Florida, for a little bit of fun.

Good morning, everyone. I'm Kasie Hunt. Wonderful to have you on this Monday morning.

Another Trump speech, another set of questions about what exactly did the former president mean when he said something dark and foreboding?


TRUMP: We're going to put a 100 percent tariff on every single car that comes across the line. And you're not going to be able to sell those guys. If I get elected.

Now, if I don't get elected, it's going to be a bloodbath for the whole -- that's going to be the least of it. It's going to be a bloodbath for the country.


HUNT: So that's the quote: "If I don't get elected, it's going to be a bloodbath."

His defenders quick to underscore the remark came as he discussed the auto industry.


SEN. MIKE ROUNDS (R-SD): With regard to the auto workers that he was talking to. He is showing them, or he's telling them, what has been an economic downturn for them.


HUNT: It wasn't the only potentially inflammatory thing Trump said this weekend.


TRUMP: If I had prisons that were teeming with MS-13 and all sorts of people that they've got to take care of for the next 50 years, right? Young people that are in jail for years, if you call them people. I don't know if you call them people. In some cases, they're not people in my opinion.

These are animals. OK?


HUNT: Again, Republicans trying to explain those remarks about how some migrants are not people.


SEN. BILL CASSIDY (R-LA): No, see, first, he was speaking about the possibility of criminals being among the immigrants. And that -- those are the people he was saying may not be people, if you will.


HUNT: Democrats out urging voters to take the former president at his word. Here's former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): We just have to win this election, because he's even predicting a bloodbath. What does that mean? He's going to exact a bloodbath? There's something wrong here.


HUNT: All right. Let's bring in our panel: David Frum, staff writer for "The Atlantic"; CNN contributor Lulu Garcia Navarro; and Jason Osborne, former senior communication strategist for the 2016 Ben -- Ben Carson campaign. Thank you all for being here this morning.

David, I'm going to kind of let you go first here. The weekend sort of back-and-forth around this really seemed to center on, you know, a lot of the president's defenders saying, "Look, he was being very specific. It was about the auto industry. This is all being mischaracterized."

I want to just play the whole clip, just so that, you know, no one can accuse us of not showing the entirety of what the president said about this. It's a little bit of a longer version than what we just showed. Let's watch it, and then I'd like your reaction. Watch.


TRUMP: If you're listening President Xi -- and you and I are friends -- but he understands the way I deal. Those big monster car manufacturing plants that you're building in Mexico right now? And you think you're going to get that -- you're going to not hire Americans, and you're going to sell the cars to us now.

We're going to put a 100 percent tariff on every single car that comes across the line. And you're not going to be able to sell those guys, if I get elected.

Now, if I don't get elected, it's going to be a bloodbath for the whole -- that's going to be the least of it. It's going to be a bloodbath for the country. That'll be the least of it. But they're not going to sell those cars.


HUNT: What's he doing here?

DAVID FRUM, STAFF WRITER, "THE ATLANTIC": Well, Trump's brain is a little bit like putting things swap around and -- and don't cohere in any precise shape.

But I looked it up. In the past 12 months, past year, former President Trump has threatened violence in one form or another, at least five times that I can count on his Truth Social with images of him putting a baseball bat at the head of the New York D.A. He's threatened death and destruction if he's not elected.


So when -- if this had come out of the blue, you might say, OK, the pudding brain has -- has spat out something formless in -- in the context of saying we're going to blow up the U.S.-Mexico free trade agreement and massively raised the price of cars for American consumers. He said something else. But five times, this is the -- this would be the sixth incident of a

call for violence in the past year. So I think it's at that point you've got to say, if you are predicting death and destruction if you lose; if you're saying there's going to be bedlam if you lose; if you invite your supporters to go after the New York attorney general, when you then say, and there'll be a bloodbath if I lose, you lose the benefit of the doubt, because there's a pattern here that goes back a year.

LULU GARCIA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think one of the things that to me is really interesting about this entire speech was that he started it by lauding the January 6th --

HUNT: And let's show that. Yes. Let's play that. And we're going to pick up where we left off. OK.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, please rise for the horribly and unfairly treated January 6 hostages.

TRUMP: You see the spirit from the hostages, and that's what they are as hostages. They've been treated terribly. Unbelievable patriots -- and they were unbelievable patriots, and are.


HUNT: Criminals who attacked police officers on their way into the capital.

NAVARRO: Precisely. And so this was a violent insurrection, and so what he's doing there is setting the stage. He's starting his campaign rally there by saying, Hey, these people didn't actually do what they did. They were patriots. They are, you know, political -- politically persecuted.

And it sets the stage for this normalization of violence.

And so when he uses words like blood -- bloodbath, talking about the car industry, already, the people who are listening to him are primed to understand that he's really talking about something else.

HUNT: Well, and this is kind of part of it, too. I mean, in the lead- up to January 6, there were -- there's plenty of clues, right, along the way that this is what he was asking people to do, because there was an audience that was hearing him in a certain way.

Jump in, offer your own, your thoughts here, if you think these folks are on the wrong track. But I'm interested in that piece of it, as well.

JASON OSBORNE, FORMER SENIOR COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGIST FOR BEN CARSON CAMPAIGN: Well, I'm not going to sit here and defend, you know, like some of the other Republicans that have been on here, defend.

I know what he was referring to. I would say that, like, this isn't unusual for Trump to kind of go off-cuff. You know, the excuse that the teleprompter was -- was moving around and shaking around.

I mean, what Trump does at these things is he kind of -- he gauges the audience reaction, and I think if he's focusing on certain parts of the audience and then he's starting to lose them, they're not understanding what he's saying, they're waiting for that red meat thing, he throws something out there. It's careless, and it's reckless, right?

But I don't necessarily feel that, you know, there's a half-truth to everything that he says, enough so that it reinvigorates what he's thinking is the base, right? And you're hoping that at some point, he switches to a general election strategy.

But in the back of his mind, he feels like these rallies are kind of boring if he focuses on policy discussions, et cetera.

So the January 6th thing, I have honestly no idea what that's about. I can't sit here and say that that's a great thing to start talking about. He's already got those folks in his camp.

So move on and try and add voters that you lost in 2020. And then the millions of new voters that he needs to get in order to defeat Biden.

FRUM: "I Shot the Sheriff" is both the title of a hit song from the 1970s, and it's also a confession of a crime. So if somebody says at a big rally, "I shot the sheriff," you have a question. Are you talking about the song? Or are you talking about the confession of a crime?

If you've been indicted for shooting the sheriff already, then -- and when you say no, I was just referring to the song, if that -- the threat of violence is not hypothetical. We had the violence of Trump, as Lulu said. Trump was defending the people who committed the violence.

Same weekend, by the way, he called for the jailing of Liz Cheney, the person who led the investigation.

HUNT: Haven't even gotten to that. So you have to say, I know it's a pudding brain. I know things sort of belt out in these weird random things. I know one thought doesn't connect to another in his mind. And I know he's free associating and panicking and getting bored.

But the fact is, we are in the aftermath of the end of the tradition of the peaceful transfer of power in the United States. We had a violent transfer of power in 2020. The clock resets.

Every other democracy in the world now has a longer tradition of the peaceful transfer of power than the United States, including the newest ones. That's the context in which Donald Trump is talking about bloodbaths and death and destruction and bedlam, to use the quotes I am asking (ph).

NAVARRO: And I think the thing that's really sobering to me, as someone who's spent most of their career in conflicts covering places in turmoil with a lot of political polarization, is that language is the gateway drug often to action. And so when we hear him dehumanizing migrants, when we hear him --


HUNT: Well, if they're not people, you don't have to treat them like people.

NAVARRO: You don't have to treat them like people. And we know he's already promised that, if he gets another term, he is going to do mass deportations. He's going -- we might see another version of when there was the separation of families.

I mean, if you will recall during that period, there was the sound of crying children in sort of cages on the border. And he has already done that. He is promising to do it again.

And if we see these people as animal -- animals, if we see these people as criminals, then of course, that means that when it comes to another term of Trump, he will be able to say, Well, it doesn't matter what happens to these people. They are evil.

And so that's why I think that language is important. When we focus on language, we're not just saying, Hey, oh, another crazy thing that Trump did. It's another pudding brain. It's another thing that he's just trying to reinvigorate his base.

It's actually something that matters, because eventually it could lead to action.

HUNT: Well, it is, I mean, the one thing that I think is important not to lose sight of is that the normalization of rhetoric, of violence. I mean, as David points out, there was actual violence.

I mean, I was there on that day. I looked and watched some of these people through the windows come in, breach -- you know, obviously, commit crimes.

And now essentially, the former president is rewriting history at the top of this rally in a way that is giving, you know, permission to his supporters to do things that are, quite frankly, quite different and outside the norms of our -- it's the playbook, right? Change the norms.

All right. Our panel is going to come back. We are -- so much more to talk about.

Up next, Trump says we're going to all find out soon if he supports a national ban on abortion.

Plus, Kim Jong-un firing off another round of missiles just as U.S. officials are visiting South Korea.

And the family of Ruth Bader Ginsburg blasting the recipients of an award that bears the name of the late Supreme Court justice.


HUNT: Welcome back. Donald Trump is saying standby from an announcement about his stance on a federal abortion ban.


TRUMP: Pretty soon I'm going to be making a decision, and I would like to see if we could do that or all how I would like to see if we could make both sides happy.


HUNT: CNN's Alayna Treene joins me now.

Alayna, first of all, making both sides happy on this issue. Good luck. What do you think he's actually going to do here?

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, it's really interesting, because this is something I've talked to his campaign at length about, this issue. And it's something they've been avoiding.

They've been purposely vague on this issue and haven't taken a strong stance on a federal abortion ban, unlike some of his earlier Republican primary challengers, because they recognize how politically potent this issue is and how, really, it doesn't really help Republicans.

And it's something you hear Donald Trump talk about a lot. He's always thinking about the politics of this issue. We've seen him tried to toe that line over the past several months of him saying, yes, you know, trying to cater to Republicans, that he was the one who helped get Roe v. Wade overturned.

But he's also been purposely vague, because he recognizes that he thinks this issue is a political loser for Republicans. And he's very afraid of alienating a lot of key voters, particularly now that he's in a general election campaign mode.

HUNT: Yes, for sure. Let me just ask you, you were at the Ohio rally over the weekend that we've been talking about. And what did you kind of observe? What were your takeaways in terms of why we saw the speech we saw from him?

TREENE: Well, so Ohio was interesting, because it was outside. We are in an airplane, an airport hangar. And there was, like, 30-plus mile- per-hour winds.

And so Donald Trump, it was a very freewheeling rambling speech. And part of that was because I think he was having issues with his teleprompter. It was swaying in the wind. And you could see that Donald Trump, he kept remarking on that, saying he's not able to use it. You saw make some of these, you know, more off-the-cuff remarks that he typically -- even though he doesn't always use the teleprompter so heavily, it was definitely more noticeable in this speech. And look, I think Donald Trump, the dark rhetoric that we heard on

Saturday is exactly the type of rhetoric that, yes, maybe his campaign doesn't always want him to be using, but he's going to continue to use throughout the general election.

And part of that is -- it's the same type of rhetoric we saw in 2016: that fearmongering, trying to put fear in the idea of voters that, if he's not re-elected, the country will be far worse without him.

It's the same thing that we saw him do effectively when he first ran for the White House and he's trying to implement now, as well.

HUNT: So it's -- it's -- the curtain is down all the way. And were seeing what's really there.

All right. Alayna Treene for us. Alayna, thank you very much. I really appreciate it.

Coming up here, did the Biden campaign miss a big opportunity in a key swing state? We're going to ask one of the president's supporters, Congressman Dan Kildee.

Plus, Iceland's famous Blue Lagoon under an evacuation warning -- look at that -- after another volcanic eruption.



HUNT: A developing story this morning. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Seoul condemning North Korea's latest ballistic missile launch on Sunday.

The launch has come just days after the U.S. and South Korea completed their annual military drills. Japan says three missiles landed outside of the country's coastal region.

Meanwhile, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un sent a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin, congratulating him on his reelection. This according to state media. A lot of euphemisms there.

Officials in Iceland, meanwhile, say there's no major infrastructure damage so far after a fourth volcano eruption near the town of Grindavik.

The event is not over, but the lava flow slowed substantially overnight, and seismic activity has decreased.

Those pictures are pretty incredible.

Now some other pretty pictures. Cherry blossoms already in full bloom here in Washington, D.C., but it's earlier than usual. Our weatherman, Derek van Dam, joins us now.

Derek, good morning.

I -- I've got to figure out if I'm going to brave the traffic to see these this week. It's actually going to be very cold here.


HUNT: But they're here.

VAN DAM: Yes, and -- and they're here very early. See, Kasie, we often look to these kind of natural processes, the blooming of these beautiful, beautiful cherry trees along the tidal basin, the West Potomac Park.


But this year, it is the second earliest bloom in history. And this is significant, because that shows us what type of winter we had. In fact, it was the sixth warmest winter in D.C.'s recorded history.

Less cold spells, more warm spells, lengthening the growing season, as well, and causing these beauts to pop just a little bit too early, unfortunately. A sign of our shifting climate. Winter is one of the fastest-warming seasons in the nation's capital.

And in fact, with the sixth warmest winter on record, that is why we are seeing that early bloom with the cherry blossoms.

Get out there, though, and enjoy it, because it is certainly spectacular. Last time you'll see it like this, because they have to do some rehabilitation projects to the tidal walls because of rising sea levels there. So they have to remove some of those beautiful Japanese cherry trees.

Well, it's not going to feel like spring or summer along the East coast. Fifty-seven percent of the country is going to feel temperatures below freezing.

So if you planted your plants this weekend, cover them up, because a hard freeze is coming across the Deep South -- Kasie.

HUNT: All right. Our Weatherman van Dam. Derek, thank you very much for that.

All right. Coming up, Benjamin Netanyahu blasting Chuck Schumer's call for new elections in Israel.


NETANYAHU: It's inappropriate for -- to go to a sister democracy and try to replace the elected leadership there.


HUNT: Dana Bash joins me with more of her interview with the Israeli prime minister.

Plus, why congressman Adam Schiff is blaming the Justice Department for some of Trump's delayed trials.